Back in the day, my hair was longer, and my sheets were whiter.
These days, my hair is cut to a manageable length, and my sheets are clean with the brightness consigned to the ‘whatever’ basket.
My son took the photo, which ended up — many years later, as a painting — two stages my son went through and never came out of.
I don’t know what I was thinking when his finger hit the shutter, but it certainly looks like I’m deep in thought. Maybe I was distracted by a far-off clammer. Maybe I was wondering where all the pegs had gone — I still do that today, wonder, and not just about runaway pegs.
There is no date on the photo, but I remember when the painting was done.
From the look of me, the shot must have been taken not long after my son got his camera — the camera was a huge ‘guilt present’, a ‘sure I left you and your mother but this incredible present will distract you for a while before you work out what a crap dad I was’. There was never any ‘spare money’ when my husband was here, but out of the blue, he finds the funds for an SLR, top of the range, too big and too expensive for a boy of eleven. To my son’s credit, he still has that camera, and he never dropped it or otherwise buggered it up. I taught him how to use it, and I didn’t need to repeat an instruction once.
There is another photo floating around of me wrapped up in an identical sheet with two eye holes cut out. The sheet was past its best with tears where my sharp toenails had gone through it. Before the eye holes had appeared the sheet saw valiant service as a fort, strung over two lounge chairs.
I couldn’t swear to it, but it may have been the same sheet that held the telltale stains produced by my husband and his lover — she was shorter than me with a push-up bra (when she was wearing it) and legs that went all the way up to her bum. No one ever said so, but I’m pretty sure she sucked penis like a princess. Come to think of it, I’m sure that’s why that sheet wore out so fast — I must have washed it a hundred times — in a row — with bleach.
The part that really hurt was that he could not be bothered to clean up after himself — thought I was too dumb to notice, or worse still, thought I would assume that the evidence belonged to us — together, us.
I look at the painting, and I can feel the sun on my face and see the reflected glare.
I wonder what happened to those pegs?
Where do pegs go to die?
Is there a place where broken hearts and old pegs are reunited?
I guess not, but I know where old sheets go when they die, they become ghost costumes, which is appropriate I guess — at least in my case.
ARTIST: J T Larson